jakebe: (Reading Rabbit)
[personal profile] jakebe
Don't look now, but I think I might finally be catching up to my workload.

At the day job, we actually hired three people in rapid succession -- it'll be a while before they're actually able to take cases, but it's good to know that we'll be back up to a full staff by December. It also means I'm not the newbie anymore, which is a bit of a weird feeling. But I'll get used to it. :) The caseload is also starting to come down by some miracle, but that might be the calm before the holiday storm. Either way, it's giving us a bit of a breather to get ready for the blitz that is to come.

My English class is probably the biggest demand on my time. Each week, I have to annotate one chapter of our "Elements of Argument" textbook and 3 - 8 chapters of To Kill A Mockingbird. We must also write academic journal entries on a regular basis, and 1000-word essays roughly every two weeks. The writing actually isn't that bad, but I'm a slow reader and stopping to make notes or catch my thoughts makes it even slower. We're having our midterm today and the first batch of journal entries were submitted last week, so all I had to do this week was a 1000-word essay. I'm looking forward to getting a head start on my annotations for next week, at the very least.

My Psychology class is the most fascinating. It's online, so every week we have to read a chapter of our textbook, go over an online module that features several videos, and then watch a 30-60 minute video. After that, we summarize what we've seen and offer our own personal thoughts, incorporating everything we've learned from the text and the module -- and in order to get full credit, we have to interact with the summaries of our classmates. I've learned so much about how people interact in groups, and the English class is really helping me to organize my thoughts better. It's...undeniably awesome.

Between the day job and schoolwork, my blog, Pathfinder game, Patreon serial and all other writing has fallen off. Now that I'm starting to get the hang of this, though, I'm looking forward to getting back to a few other things. Writing comes first -- I have a really wonderful set of ideas for my Pathfinder game, but they'll have to wait until I can organize them. Right now, I'd like to actually have a few finished short stories under my belt.

This election season has been a nightmare. Trump has essentially been the logical extreme for the Republican party's policies of the past 20 years; their attacks on immigration, disregard for anyone who doesn't fit a very narrow idea of what it is to be "American", their misogyny and aggressive ignorance of scientific, political and economic facts have been coming to this for a while now. The fact that the GOP-dominated congress has refused to work with a Democratic President for the last eight years, and that so many Republican-controlled state legislatures have been ushering in very concerning bills promoting voter disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, aggressive repeal of rights for minorities and LGBQT individuals while simultaneously painting themselves as victims under seige by a Godless but powerful coalition of degenerates and a liberally-biased media is directly responsible for the tone of this campaign. A lot of Republican leaders can pretend all they want that Trump is an aberration, a phenomenon they never saw coming. But when you stoke hatred and an almost pathological distrust of authority and expertise for an entire generation, this is where that leads.

And even though I am staunchly liberal and a die-hard Hillary supporter, I'm not going to pretend she doesn't have flaws. She has molded herself into a consummate politician, and that comes with all of the flaws inherent in our current political system. I'm very concerned by her foreign policy, especially with a resurgent and aggressive Russia and China making noises; there are indications that she flouts the rules she doesn't agree with, even ones that are there for good reason; I'm not entirely sure her relationship to Wall St. is going to allow her to make significant, much-needed economic reform; and her relationship with minorities (especially black people) has been spotty at best. BUT she is tremendously qualified to lead the system as it is today. She is a very hard worker, she is intelligent, determined, and I genuinely believe that for the most part she has her heart in the right place. Hillary genuinely wants to do what's best for this country and the people in it. She is a public servant.

People are rightfully angry about the way our government has worked for the past several years. There are very real problems that need immediate action. Our dependence on fossil fuels must end for a number of reasons, the two biggest being that peak oil is a real thing that we've probably already past and that climate change is also a real thing that we'll have to deal with for hundreds of years to come. However, we can mitigate the damage we've already done and prevent complete collapse if we act now -- and that is just not possible in our current political environment. So many Americans feel as if what economic recovery we've had has left them behind, and that's true for the most part. The gap between the richest and the rest of us has been steadily widening while the fact that we almost had an economic collapse perpetrated by those very same richest 1% has largely been swept under the rug. And our politicians are responsible for that.

But then, so are we. We have not held our representatives accountable enough for not actually representing our interests. We have chosen to follow the flashiest but most shallow news; the fact that Trump's previous attacks on women, Mexicans, black people, disabled people, political opponents and the press haven't sunk his numbers but a sexual scandal has is extremely telling about our priorities as a country. And I do not say this to diminish the very real impact of his sexual assault. That is a terrible thing and we should rightfully be outraged about it. But why haven't we drawn the line at violence against protestors at his rallies? Why haven't we deemed unacceptable his repeated threatening of the freedom of press, political opponents, and legal citizens because they're the "wrong" race and religion? I know that so many of us have been saying that his behavior is unacceptable all along, but why is it only now reached critical mass? Where was this narrative a year ago?

I'm exhausted by this. I'm tired of the unchecked anger, the lashing out against reason, the demonization of our better virtues. Once this election is over, the real work begins. We have to rebuild and strengthen the fabric of our society to undue the damage that has been done. That will take swallowing a few tough pills. We share this country with the people who have supported Trump for the past year and a half. We will have to rebuild *with* them. We have to learn how to be better people than we are, every one of us. And we will have to listen to the concerns of people who hold different values than we do. That doesn't mean we have to tolerate intolerance, or allow the stripping of our rights. But it does mean that we have to take worries about government corruption and overreach seriously; we have to stop thinking of the rural poor as inbred yokels and treat them with the same compassion and respect we give our urban poor; we have to start seeing conservatives as people instead of monsters if we want to actually move past this and get to work leading our country and the world past our immense challenges. But I don't know if we can do that. And that's the scariest part to me -- not the election, but what comes after it.

Here are the things that I'd love to do today:

1. Read the next chapter of my "Elements of Argument" text.
2. Tell the "bar story" for my Fiyah mag short story; this is basically summarizing the story like I'm telling it to friends at a bar. It helps me to organize my thoughts and focus on the best/more interesting parts.
3. Brainstorm and outline a short serial for my Patreon.

Here are the things that I'm grateful for today:

1. My husband. You'll be seeing him a lot here. :) He is so important to me, and he is stretching himself towards some scary and important things. I'm tremendously proud of him.
2. The Dharma. These days, the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path have provided me with tremendous comfort. I'm not perfect by any stretch, but I'm learning how to be calm under pressure and to be kinder in difficulty.
3. Harper Lee. She wrote a tremendous novel that has withstood the test of time, and the story of Atticus Finch reminds us that compassion and virtue are possible even in a community that has huge, troublesome blind spots.
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